Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cherry picking studies - just like you cherry pick the rowing workouts (#coconutoil rant)

With the certainty that the advice "don't eat saturated fat" is dispensed you'd think that there are thousands of studies that show that. A quick Google Scholar search returned 10,000 studies in 0.08 seconds. Now, not all of those are good studies, but you'd think that there would be a lot of evidence supporting a decision for a broad public health statement that affects just about what everyone eats. I know I'd probably take something seriously if it came from the results of 10,000 independent studies.

It's very serious for an institution (the government, the AHA, anyone with a large audience) to give dietary advice. If the advice is wrong, then that is playing with the health of the entire country. So what research went into the new report doubling-down on the dangers of saturated fat?

There were four (yes, 4!) studies that the AHA included in their report. They carefully screened (cherry picked) all of the studies and meta-analyses that have been done since the 1940's and said that most of them were poorly done (didn't get the results they wanted) and excluded just about all of them. The newest of the 4 was from the 1960's. Yes, that's right, the "new" advice about the "dangers" of coconut oil comes from 4 cherry-picked studies that all came out before the 1960's. Nothing newer was even included.

Some of the biggest studies were excluded, including the only one to focus on women (that's right gals, half the population is given this advice with no scientific support) - mainly because those studies show no significant effect of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils on deaths from heart disease.  What's not ever reported is that those studies also show an increase in all-cause morality.  That is, replacing saturated fat with vegetable oil has never shown a conclusive reduction in heart disease deaths and shows an increase in death of all kinds.

tl;dr - the AHA went back to their old studies (and actively excluded all the new studies) that showed a tenuous effect of saturated fat and heart disease to issue a new report that we should stay away from saturated fat.

Here's the full breakdown from the one-and-only (and very thorough) Gary Taubes.


row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips


snatch pull 5-3-3-3x3


2 windmills between strength sets

Group Workout

EMOM 10:
10 kettlebell swings at a challenging weight


40 inchworm push-up (hold in plank if position breaks)


2 minute bottom of push-up hold


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